Tree of the Week showcases some of the biggest and most beautiful trees in the GTA, as compiled by Megan Ogilvie. Here, Alan Craig tells us about a massive weeping willow that grows in a park near Etobicoke Creek in Brampton, about a 15-minute walk from his retirement residence.
My wife, Grace, and I moved to this retirement home just over three years ago.
Almost immediately we started going for walks around the neighbourhood.
I’m 92 and Grace is 86 and though we’re both getting older and slower we still love to walk.
Our goal is to go for a walk every day. And we do, except for the days that we don’t.
Grace has dementia and uses a walker. So far, I don’t seem to need one. But we do walk slowly.
One day, during one of our neighbourhood walks, a man sitting on a bench asked us if we had a high gear. I said no, we have two speeds: slow and stop.
There are many different walks we can take near our retirement home.
One takes us to a nearby street with a home that has a beautiful front yard full of flowers. We love to walk that way when all the flowers are in bloom.
Another nearby street — Victoria Terrace — has several huge maple trees. Right now, the leaves are slowly turning red and in the sun they are just glorious.
One of our favourite walks takes us across Ken Whillans Dr. to a path that snakes between the road and Etobicoke Creek. It’s parkland and each year the greenery on either side of the path gets fuller and more beautiful.
Grace and I have noticed two very large weeping willow trees near this path. Both are big and impressive but the one that grows closest to the path is enormous. Seen from across the road, it towers over the other trees in the park.
On a recent walk, I took my tape measure and measured the tree. It is 5.06 m (16 feet, 6 inches) in circumference.
Grace and I have been married for 55 years. These days, my main job is to take care of her. What else would I do? It’s one of the reasons we try to go for daily walks.
Grace and I both like the walk to the willow. We always stop to admire the tree.
It’s a warty old thing with real character and it makes me think of J.R.R. Tolkien’s character Old Man Willow from “The Lord of the Rings.”
A woman who sits with us in the dining room says that, as she approaches the tree, she feels like she is stepping into another time.
I think one of the reasons we like this tree is that we are old, and this tree is much older. It looks as though it has a history with all its bumps and folds and all the markings on its bark. It looks like it has a great story to tell.
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I’m always encouraging people in our retirement home to go for walks, especially the one that goes down past this willow. Anything that is big and beautiful, you want to share it, you want to pass it on, for others to see.
I expect this willow will live for a long time yet. I hope that it does.
Note: City of Brampton forestry inspector Jason Martin estimates this weeping willow to be between 120 and 150 years old. According to the city’s records, the tree is 18.3 m (60 feet) high and has a 30.5 m (100 foot) canopy. City staff monitor the two large willows that grow in this park, both of which have survived wind and ice storms.